Saturday, December 20, 2008

Bitterness Deferred

I posted a link yesterday that nearly ruined my day.

For those of y'all who missed it, the link was to a story by The Nation about some small scale ethnic cleansing that took place in New Orleans immediately following Hurricane Katrina. The story described the unsolved murders of several black men by a gang of roving white men in a mainly white neighborhood on New Orleans' West Bank. Apparently, these folks took to killing any black person walking through their neighborhood in an effort to prevent looting.

That's right, people were murdered to prevent them from even CONSIDERING stealing a television.

As I read that story, I felt a mixture of anger and dismay build inside my stomach that quickly soured the bootleg Apple Jacks I'd had for breakfast. The men featured in that article bragged of shooting black people in cold blood, one of them compared it to pheasant hunting in South Dakota. The word nigger was clearly something they were quite familiar with. The most galling thing was that none of them saw anything wrong with hunting human beings simply because of the color of their skin.

I was not feeling charitable towards white people when I finished reading.

Then, I went out on a story assignment to talk to someone whose child had been killed. It was an older white woman, and I prepared myself for comments about the "animals" in New Orleans and their lack of humanity. I was already practicing my poker face and reminding myself that going off on people I needed to interview was the best way to end up in the unemployment line.

And then God happened.

I attribute what happened next to God, but some of y'all might just think it was fate or luck. But, my faith makes me think it was God.

This old woman was so sweet. She was obviously torn up by the murder of her son, but she treated me with nothing but dignity and respect. She was kind, forthcoming and just nice. Like, the kind of nice that makes you take a step back and just marvel at people's composure. When I left her living room, she even asked me for a hug.

That was God speaking to me.

He was telling me that general, random bitterness is not something he condones. He was reminding me that when I allow hatred and anger to fester in the recesses of my heart, I only contribute to the evil in this world. That woman was sent to me to remind me that if I was going to fling my bitterness out at all white people, I was really no better than the bastards that killed black men for sport.

She reminded me that I claim to be a child of God.

As such, I have to remember exactly how important forgiveness is in God's eyes. That doesn't mean I excuse bad behavior, but it means that I must not cling to anger. It was a lesson I needed to learn this morning.

And I thank that old lady for teaching it to me.



ms. undastood said...

Wow that was powerful. I have a strong faith myself, I believe that everything that happens to us in this life happens for a reason and that people are placed in our lives for reasons. God needed to show that to you and your story will show a lot of people that all people are not as bad as we think. I say all people instead of white people or black people for the simple fact that we all have bad, evil tendencies and no one is exempt from judgement on judgement day regardless of our skin complexion. We are all suppposed to love each outher regardless and it is so funny how it takes a crises or a traumatic event to show people's true colors.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing that. Powerful stuff. Both a powerful dose of scariness and depravity yesterday (sometimes a necessary thing) and now a powerful dose of love (which is, too).

Anonymous said...

I cant begin to understand the level of frustration and rage for having roving gangs of whites in your own city wantonly killing blacks and just how that may make you feel.


There is something to be said about older white women.

I was really DONE with my internship this past summer and had had my fill of EuroAmerican thought patterns, to say the least. But, one older woman walked up to me and was just exactly what you said--flat footed nice.

Even I couldnt help but feel the warmth from her.

Now, i kinda dismissed it as just the motherly/caring spirit from her and nothing more, but nonetheless, I agree it is something in the supernatural about those transfiguring moments.

Anonymous said...

To recognize your level of bitterness and anger, and then to embrace the path that is better in the long run is a beautiful thing.

Spreading kindness is a solution to the enormous problem of hate.

Anonymous said...

powerful post big man. It is hard to look hate in the eye without taking on some of its characteristics. Now that the white lady has done her part from having you pick up a rifle and head to the white hills of new Orleans :-), we need a full governmental investigation into this shit.

Anonymous said...

That's a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it. (from an old-ish white woman)

OG, The Original Glamazon said...

Big Man,

That was a great lesson to learn and a great way to learn it.


Clifton said...

That was a truly good story and it happens to me all the time in New Orleans when I get to the breaking point.

With that being said, we really need to know if these guys still live in Algiers Point and what's going to be done about them. The crime young cats do here sometimes is irrelevant to this case. Confessing on video is cut and dry.

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

I ran across that story a few hours ago. I couldn't read more than the first few paragraphs tonight because I wasn't in the mood to get angry. I still think about Cynthia McKinney revealing this summer that she was told around 5,000 mostly young black were shot in the head execution style, by a man who was logging in the info for the government, and possibly dumped in swamps.

You might recall I wrote a post about then. I think there's a lot more that went on, and this recent story by the Nation is the tip of the ice berg.

(Sigh) It's Christmas time though, and I refuse to let the evil doers wreck it. There are millions of haters out there who'd wipe us out and have a good night's sleep, but thankfully there a far more decent non-racist whites who have a live and let live philosophy. I'm glad you had an wonderful encounter with a one, and my condolences to her for her own tragic loss.

Constructive Feedback said...

Big Man:

As you read through this story (as I did) did you ever wonder WHY the Nation magazine doesn't have a crew of journalists down in New Orleans right now - as Black people kill other Black people with reckless abandon?

What about the ethos of the Nation Magazine had them to see White people shooting Black people dead as more powerful than Black people killing other Blacks as present?

Here is my take on the White Liberals from The Nation:

Fear Not Black People of New Orleans - The Nation Magazine Is Keying In On THE WHITE FOLKS Who Shot At You Post-Katrina

If you fail to observe that some folks like to cherry pick the narrative within the Black community and have Black folks "assume the position" then you'll never ask the right questions of them.

Raving Black Lunatic